The Italian Scene

Bulletin of Cultural Information


1953-1957; 1958-1969

United States, Italy


Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello

Journalist, diplomat, and writer

In 1953 Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello, who oversaw the cultural office of the Consulate General of Italy in New York, founded The Italian Scene, a monthly bulletin of cultural information in English. It was conceived within a set of activities meant to promote the Italian heritage abroad, as well as favour cultural exchanges and a positive relationship between the USA and Italy. The first number of the bulletin came out in April 1953. As it was announced in the second volume, one of the aims of the periodical was to spread information about Italy “which seldom appear[s] in the American press” (vol. II, no. 3, March 1955). That also explains the captions printed on every issue starting from February 1954: “This is original material sent to you as a public service to spread information and understanding between your country and Italy. It can be reproduced without permission. Please send clippings”. The bulletin was mainly addressed to journalists as well as communication and education professionals in cultural institutes, universities, schools, libraries, and consulates throughout the country. Initially, The Italian Scene was a humble brochure with less than ten pages and a simple look. Similarly, its dissemination was limited, but thanks to the Italian Consulates network in North America, more than 5.500 copies were distributed in 1957 (the Consulate in San Francisco alone allocated more than 500).

Considering the success achieved by the bulletin, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Ranieri to continue it after his return to Italy in 1957. Thus, after a brief stop, mainly due to organizational difficulties related to its distribution overseas, The Italian Scene was back in print in July 1958. In the last number issued in 1957 (vol. III, no. 6) Ranieri’s name had appeared for the first time. Indeed, he had passionately committed to the project remaining anonymous until then. In concomitance with the change of office, now in Rome, the review grew in size - it began to count more than fifteen pages – and in scope – at one point more than 13,000 copies were printed. After Ranieri’s death in 1969, the periodical ceased publication.

The Italian Scene provided America with a picture of Italy in the fifties and sixties which included the changes the country was going through in the post-war years. On its pages there were articles about a rich variety of subjects, such as politics, archeology, literature, cinema, science, music, theatre, radio, television, architecture, economics, as well as news items and curiosities. In the literary field, The Italian Scene introduced young artists and informed its readers of successful newly published books in Italy, facilitating the acquisition of foreign rights for translation. Moreover, Ranieri always mentioned the winners of annual prizes (i.e. Premio Strega, Bagutta and Viareggio), announced the visits of Italian artists to the US planned for the following months, informed about cinematographic transpositions of Italian works and relevant expositions. Ranieri planned special sections dedicated, for instance, to the typical Christmas meals of the whole peninsula (Dec. 1953, vol. I, no. 10), and to politics, such as on the occasion of President Gronchi’s visit to the US (March Supplement, 1956), or of the 1958 elections, when the bulletin came out together with a little volume, Italian Elections Made Simple. A guide for foreign correspondents and others (1958), which intended to explain the electoral system to foreigners. Another special issue was Basic Information on Italy, 1953 (vol. I, no. 4), which constituted the starting point of Primer on Italy, an independent book published by Ranieri in 1954 under the pseudonym of Hugo Ollebros. Primer on Italy touched upon several subjects, going from geography to art and sports, touching upon literature, economics, and politics.

The bulletin met with the approval of many important personalities of the time. George Weller, Pulitzer Prize in 1943 and director of Chicago Daily News in Rome, expressed his admiration for the “uncompromisingly high literary quality” of the 1955 summer issue (Valoroso, 2018). In the article “Hurry Back”, Harold Weir, columnist for the Canadian newspaper The Vancouver Sun, praised the periodical for being “far more than a Bulletin of Cultural Information”, defining it “a living document sparkling with a love for Italy and written with all the tender whimsicality of a love letter” (June 21, 1957). After Ranieri’s death in 1969, Giuseppe Prezzolini paid tribute to him by admiring the unique spirit of The Italian Scene and its being “written with some humorous finesse as the best papers and magazines in America” (Ranieri, p. 9).


Related Vectors

Giuseppe Prezzolini

Writer, literary critic, academic, journalist, publisher

Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello

Journalist, diplomat, and writer

Media gallery


Italica. "Editorial Comment Source." Italica, vol. 31, no. 2, (American Association of Teachers of Italian, June 1954): 131-132.

Fondazione Ranieri. “Notizie biografiche di Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello.” Last accessed February 8, 2022,

Prezzolini, Giuseppe. "Italia sott'occhio. America col cannocchiale." In Valoroso, Antonella e Ruggero Ranieri. Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello. Un intellettuale tra due mondi. Perugia: Morlacchi Editore, 2019. Originally appeared in Il Borghese, June 19, 1969.

Ranieri di Sorbello, Uguccione. The Italian Scene. A Bulletin of Cultural Information, vol. I-XV (New York, 1953-1957; Rome, 1958-1963). Online at

Ranieri, Ruggero. "The Life and Work of a Cosmopolitan Intellectual: Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello (1906-1969)." Perusia. Rivista del Dipartimento di culture comparate dell’Università per Stranieri di Perugia, no. 2 (2006): 7-14.

Sorbello Foundation. “Uguccione Virtual Exhibition.” Las accessed February 4, 2022,

Valoroso, Antonella e Ruggero Ranieri. Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello. Un intellettuale tra due mondi. Perugia: Morlacchi Editore, 2019.

Weir, Harold. "Hurry Back." The Vancouver Sun, June 21, 1957.

Author Marta Zonca